Los Angeles Review of Books
LITLIT: The Little Literary Fair
LITLIT brings together independent publishers and literary arts organizations from LA, SoCal, and beyond for a two-day festival of books, panels, and discussions. This free and public event creates space for cross-cultural and collaborative dialogue between writers, readers, and publishers about the literary arts as a form of community activism, enrichment, and engagement. LITLIT is dedicated to cultivating and promoting the Los Angeles literary scene by raising public awareness and creating new opportunities for collaboration and engagement.
Describe the mission of your organization.
The Los Angeles Review of Books is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing and conversation on literature, culture, and the arts.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Literary production can feel like an insider’s world, concentrated in and around New York’s publishing scene and largely dominated by a handful of ever-consolidating corporations. California’s thriving independent publishing houses have long offered more inclusive, diverse, and adventurous alternatives, but lack the interconnective network, outreach infrastructure, and financial resources wielded by larger firms. Independent literary arts organizations, driven by community rather than pure profit, serve communities often underrepresented in and misrepresented by big trade publishing. LITLIT offers local independent publishers and literary arts organizers the opportunity to forge and reinforce direct connections with their readers and fellow professionals. By bringing together California’s literary arts community and the reading public, LITLIT will foster a more diverse cultural landscape, increasing access to the arts for writers, publishers, readers, and curious passers-by alike.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Over the course of a weekend, LITLIT will gather together 30-40 local publishers and literary arts organizations and host 6–7 panel discussions and workshops. The free, outdoor book fair will run from 10AM–5PM on both days, with ample room for socially distanced and masked activity, should such precautions be necessary. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with booksellers, authors, publishers, and organizers from their communities, and to engage in printing workshops and other interactive craft projects. We will feature panels and discussions between literary artists and publishers on a range of topics. We will tailor programming to the groups and causes our exhibitors serve, inviting those interested to not only participate in panels, but also to cultivate these discussions with us. This year, we plan to feature conversations on topics such as Politics & Publishing, Art & Poetry Across Borders, Adaptations from Page to Screen, and more. This grant will facilitate participation from small presses and nonprofit publishers by helping us offer exhibitors booths free of charge, rather than at the often prohibitive standard rates of $350–950+ for comparable events and conferences. It will also support advertising and outreach efforts to communities all over Los Angeles and fund panel discussions, which will be recorded and uploaded onto LARB’s YouTube channel and website to maximize content accessibility and engagement, and for archival purposes.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Cutting-edge and attuned to the needs of local communities, independent presses in California have done much to shape Los Angeles’s cultural identity. LITLIT will strengthen public and institutional support for their work and bring broader recognition of the vibrant literary community here in LA. It will also foster access to and engagement in the world of literary production, especially among readers and writers from underserved populations. By bringing together publishers and readers, LITLIT will help each of our exhibitors, which have included Tia Chucha, World Stage Press, Kaya Press, Red Hen, and others, to increase their audiences and better tailor their products to the communities they serve. LITLIT exposes the public to local literary communities, generating dozens of new library card enrollments each day and a long list of new volunteers for programs such as WordsUncaged. Our goal is to attract at least 6,000 members of the public in 2022.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
In our inaugural (and as-yet, because of the pandemic, only) run, our exhibitors garnered between 25–150+ new email sign-ups, building their following and customer base. LITLIT 2019, co-hosted by LARB and Hauser & Wirth Publishers, welcomed over 5,000 visitors across two days, and our goal is to host over 6,000 this year. Exhibitors reported that they sold more books at LITLIT than at other book fairs and events, and some sold out on the first day. We have learned that regular in-person check-ins with exhibitors are essential during the event to create a welcoming and casual atmosphere conducive to a positive experience. After the event, we also provided exhibitors with emailed surveys for more extensive feedback about the quality and efficacy of the event, details regarding the number of products exhibitors sold and new contacts and collaborations made, and their willingness to participate in future events. (All of our respondents were eager to join us again.)
Which of the create metrics will you impact?
- Arts establishments
- and exhibitions
- Employment in the creative industries
- Minority- and women-owned businesses
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
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